General Motors Corp. is continuing its drive into nanocomposites, now ready to use 7 pounds of the material on the next version of its Hummer vehicle line.
The cargo bed of the 2005 Hummer H2 - labeled a sport utility truck, or SUT, by Detroit-based GM - will use a molded-in-color, nanofilled thermoplastic olefin for trim along the outer edge of the truck box for its center bridge, sail panel and box rail protector.
``We designed this vehicle to use the nanocomposite parts because they are lightweight and they don't change shape when subjected to temperature changes,'' said Bill Knapp, H2 program engineering manager, in a May 13 announcement.
The GM program uses a clay filler, and Southern Clay Products Inc. of Gonzales, Texas, and Basell Polyolefins have continued as development partners in the project. Injection molder Sport Rack Automotive of Sterling Heights, Mich., is molding the parts.
GM first began using nanocomposites on a TPO optional step-assist for two midsize vans in 2001. It added them for a body side molding on its high-volume 2004 Chevrolet Impala, bumping overall use of the composite to about 500,000 pounds annually.
With the addition of the H2 truck, GM estimates it will bump up annual use to 660,000 pounds.
Unlike past vehicles where nanocomposites replaced other materials, the H2 was designed for the composite from the start, said GM spokeswoman Susan Garavaglia.
The truck went into production this month, and will hit showrooms later this year. GM still is considering other uses for the composite, including exterior claddings and interior trim.